BIG Keith Mason is backing new signing Paul Whatuira to be a massive Giants hit.
The duo were teammates at Australian NRL club Melbourne Storm six years ago.
Since then, Mason has had successful spells at Huddersfield and St Helens, while Whatuira has become a regular New Zealand Test centre.
And the 25-year-old prop can’t wait to renew the acquaintance .
“Paul became a good friend during our time at Melbourne, so I was delighted when I heard we’d signed him,” said Mason.
“But that isn’t just because he’s a good lad. The main reason I’m so pleased is because he’s a cracking player, who will definitely add to our strength.
“He was only very young when he came to Melbourne, but everyone could see how talented he was. He’s very quick and strong, and has a natural ability to score tries.
“Nobody who played with him at that time was in the least bit surprised he went on to become an international. He’s world class.”
The 26-year-old Whatuira was yesterday in the Kiwi side beaten 58-0 by Australia in the Test in Wellington.
He will now jet in to England as part of the Kiwis squad for this autumn’s three-Test series against Great Britain.
During that time, Whatuira hopes to meet up with Giants head coach Jon Sharp and some of his new teammates.
“I think one of the first things I’ll say to him is that he’s made a great choice coming here,” he added.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute here, and I see no reason why Paul won’t feel the same.
“I can’t wait for next year. Personally, I feel I’ve just had the best season of my career, and I’m sure I can do even better in 2008 – as can the team.”
Greg Inglis grabbed a hat trick and Israel Folau a brace on his international debut as Australia romped home 58-0 in the centennial test against New Zealand in Wellington.
The Kiwis had Steve Matai sent off for a late, high tackle on Mark Gasnier.